Just 11 months after breaking the 50km indoor running world record, Florian Neuschwander has gone one better. Well, 50 actually. The German ultrarunning legend has just set the 100km indoor running world record, finishing the exhausting distance in a time of just 6h 26m 08s, more than 13 minutes faster than the previous record.
On Saturday, January 30, inside a local gym in Chiemgau, Bavaria, Neuschwander started the unofficial world record attempt at 9am, supported by hundreds of fans as well as fellow athletes and numerous digital companions on Zwift.
All for one via live stream and Zwift
With Neuschwander's start, fans could be there from the couch via a live stream. The challenge also ran on the virtual training platform Zwift, where users could run and cycle alongside him and send digital greetings – an opportunity that fellow top athletes didn't want to miss. Triathlete Patrick Lange cycled a few kilometres with Neuschwander, while Sebastian Kienle and Koko Klosterhalfen kept him motivated with video messages.
"If I'd run 100km on the treadmill alone, with no interaction, I think too much," said Neuschwander. "You can't do that: when it gets difficult, there's no one to push you." The opposite was the case on this mega run. Over 5,000 people watched Neuschwander and ran or cycled with him. "The digital support was extremely important," he explained. "That's the be-all and end-all for such a long run."
The digital support was extremely important. That’s the be-all and end-all for such a long run
100km in 3 stages: easy, tough, cool
In the end, Neuschwander ran the 100km in 6h 26m 08s, a good 13 minutes faster than the reigning world record holder, Mario Mendoza, from the USA, who ran 100km on the treadmill last June in 6h 39m 26s. The first 50km were "easy", apparently.
"It got interesting from 60km onwards. From then on it was new territory," said Neuschwander. "I've never run that far on the treadmill, especially not at that speed."
Up to the 70km mark, Neuschwander felt "amazingly good", even if a toilet break was out of the question, but then it got tough: "From 70 to 85km it was hard. I had to dig really deep, especially mentally. It was tough."
The most astonishing thing about the entire effort is that the last kilometre, with a time of 3m 20s, was Neuschwander's fastest of the 100km. "The last kilometre clearly goes to the community. It was great!" he said.
A world record is always great, even if it's unofficial
"Normal pace" = a world record
Neuschwander's finishing time was made possible thanks to an average of 3m 52m per kilometre. "Seen over the entire distance, the pace seems brutal, of course," he said. But for Neuschwander this is a completely normal pace. "The trick was to keep up this pace for so long. The community pushed me to the max – thanks for that."
Since official observers from Guinness World Records – who would normally observe the attempt, log it and ultimately legitimise it – couldn't be on site due to strict hygiene requirements, the record goes into the annals of Neuschwander's career as an 'unofficial' one in that regard, something he's perfectly happy with: "A world record is always great, even if it's unofficial."
Next stop: Wings for Life World Run
Even if Neuschwander missed the German outdoor 100km record time by less than two minutes, he's more than satisfied with his performance. "It was awesome. I'll get the German record outdoors sometime in autumn, when I hope you can race outdoors again," he said with a view to the 6h 24m 29s time by Kazimierz Bak in 1994.
His next sporting goal has already been set – the Wings for Life World Run, on May 9. Like all participants in 2021, Neuschwander will run via the Wings for Life World Run app. If you want to join Neuschwander and thousands of others around the world in running to benefit spinal cord injury research on May 9, visit the Wings for Life World Run website to get more information and sign up.